In the wake of record cold temperatures and large spikes in utility costs nationwide this past winter, it is painfully obvious that energy cost-saving strategies are more important than ever for any business. For distribution centers and company warehouse areas that have large air volumes and multiple dock doors that open and close frequently, the energy burdens are magnified, making it particularly important to implement new practices as well as to consider upgrading to more efficient dock door systems.
Getting a better handle on energy losses in these hard-working areas can start with a review of your dock door types, age, condition and how they are used. Here are a few tell-tale signs your loading dock doors are putting an extra load on your energy bill.
How old is your dock door?
The average age of a warehouse in the U.S. is 34 years, according to analysis by commercial real estate firm CBRE. If your loading dock hasn’t seen an upgrade in more than three decades, chances are there are newer dock door solutions that can provide improved energy efficiency.
Newer designs in commercial sectional garage doors have higher R-value performance, while also improving durability and retaining aesthetics. Constructed of rigid, light-weight steel panels, commercial sectional doors also allow for additional window options and can provide enhanced security. The Raynor family of steel sectional garage doors includes thermal, ribbed, rail and stile, and raised panel doors, a perfect fit for commercial and industrial loading dock door applications.
Are there dings or other imperfections in your dock door?
With the constant loading and unloading of pallets, products and equipment through your loading dock, it’s inevitable that your dock door will eventually experience some scratches. Normal wear and tear from the continuous raising and lowering of doors during operating hours will eventually create cracks and gaps. But an old or damaged door with even a small dent or crack can allow interior air to escape and send HVAC systems into overdrive trying to regulate the temperature. Durable dock doors, like Raynor’s FlexDock line, are built to improve thermal efficiency and withstand impact from fork trucks or other equipment in high-traffic areas to prevent this type of energy loss.
Is your loading dock drafty?
Even just a quarter-inch gap across the bottom of an 8-foot dock door is the equivalent of a 2-foot hole to the outdoors. A good fitting, tightly sealed dock door, such as the Raynor TH160 which features a U-shaped, vinyl bottom weather seal and dual vinyl barriers to dramatically reduce air infiltration, creates a true thermal break that prevents heat loss due to airflow between the outdoor and indoor environments.
Is your loading dock area frequently wet, or is there frost build-up around the door in Winter months?
Rain or snow inside could be an obvious sign that the dock door does not seal against weather conditions. In addition to being energy inefficient, a wet floor may be slippery which might become a safety issue that could cost your business even more from a worker’s comp claim. Raynor’s line of RapidCoil™ fabric high speed doors features the industry’s best garage door sealing technology which gives an extremely tight seal against wind, rain, and contaminants, reducing leaking cool air conditioning in Summer and heated air in Winter.
Is it difficult to maintain a consistent temperature in your facility?
If the HVAC system struggles to keep a comfortable working temperature in your loading dock throughout the day, you could be losing heated or cooled air through your dock door. Modern loading dock doors are built to be heavily insulated, a great choice for a facility that needs to maintain specific interior climate control, such as food and beverage or pharmaceutical warehouses. For example, the exclusive construction process of the Raynor ThermaSeal® thermal sectional insulated steel doors fills 100% of the garage door’s interior space with energy-saving polyurethane foam insulation to deliver exceptional R-value efficiency.
Are loading dock doors left open?
For high-traffic areas, employees may find it inconvenient to open and close the dock door continuously throughout the day, and instead just leave the door open. This is a huge drain of energy. A high-speed door, like the Raynor RapidCoil™ RC300HD, can open and close as quickly as 96 inches per second in some applications, improving environmental control and providing energy savings. The high-speed operation has the added benefit of improving employee comfort and traffic flow by reducing the time a fork truck driver needs to wait for the door to open.
As one of the largest openings to the outdoors, the loading dock is frequently the source of large amounts of lost energy for warehouses and distribution centers. Newest dock doors are built with improved construction materials and engineering features to improve energy efficiency. Your Raynor authorized dealer can recommend a commercial door solution that could save on your energy bill.